Skip to Content

Best Books Set in West Virginia

Every state is known for something. As you work your way through the list, don’t miss the best books set in West Virginia. While you’re at it, check out the best movies set in West Virginia, too.

Charleston, West Virginia, USA with text:

West Virginia is an eastern U.S. state in the tree-covered Appalachian Mountains. The town of Harpers Ferry, where the Shenandoah River meets the Potomac River, is the site of a famous Civil War-era raid. Surrounded by a national historical park, the town looks as it did in the 19th century, with many buildings open to the public as living history museums.

What themes are in Books Set in West Virginia?

Books set in West Virginia often explore various themes that reflect the region’s unique cultural and historical landscape. Here are some common themes found in these books:

  1. Family and Personal Histories: Many narratives delve into the complexities of family relationships and personal histories, exploring how these shape characters and their connections to West Virginia.
  2. Belonging and Community: The sense of belonging and community within the small towns or rural areas of West Virginia is a prevalent theme. These stories often delve into the bonds formed within these tight-knit communities and the shared experiences that strengthen them.
  3. Mystery and Suspense: The state’s atmospheric settings often serve as backdrops for mystery and suspense novels. These stories leverage the unique locales to weave engaging and thrilling narratives that keep readers on the edge.
  4. Rural Experiences and Growing Up in Small Towns: Some works focus on the experiences of growing up in rural areas or small towns within West Virginia. They highlight the unique challenges and joys of life in these areas, providing an authentic glimpse into this facet of West Virginia living.
  5. Social Commentary: Several books provide insightful commentary on social themes. These narratives often reflect on various social issues and experiences, such as being a first-generation college student, offering readers a deeper understanding of these aspects of life in West Virginia.
RELATED:  Best Books Set in Kansas

How to Create a State Unit Study for West Virginia

Creating a state unit study for West Virginia can be a rewarding educational experience for students. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you create a comprehensive unit study:

1. Define your objectives:
Determine the grade level and learning objectives for your unit study. Consider what you want students to learn and accomplish by the end of the study.

2. Select key topics:
Choose the main topics you want to cover in your unit study. Common topics include:

  • Geography: Explore the state’s physical features, regions, and climate.
  • History: Delve into West Virginia’s history, including Native American settlements, early explorers, statehood, and significant historical events.
  • Government: Learn about the state’s government structure, key officials, and the role of state government.
  • Culture: Discover West Virginia’s cultural heritage, including traditions, art, music, and folklore.
  • Economy: Investigate the state’s economy, including industries like coal mining, agriculture, and tourism.

3. Gather resources:
Collect books, articles, websites, and other materials related to West Virginia. Local libraries, museums, and historical societies are great places to start.

4. Create lesson plans:
Develop a series of lesson plans that correspond to the chosen topics. Each lesson should have clear objectives, activities, and assessments. Make them engaging and interactive to keep students interested.

5. Hands-On Activities:
Include hands-on activities and projects to reinforce learning. For example, students could create maps, conduct historical reenactments, or explore West Virginian culture through art and music.

6. Field Trips and Guest Speakers:
Plan field trips to local museums, historical sites, or government offices to provide real-world experiences. Invite guest speakers, such as local historians or artists, to share their knowledge.

7. Culminating Project:
Consider a culminating project that allows students to showcase what they’ve learned. This could be a presentation, a research paper, or a class exhibition.

8. Assessment:
Develop assessments, such as quizzes, essays, or presentations, to gauge students’ understanding of the material. Ensure that assessments align with your learning objectives.

9. Reflection:
Encourage students to reflect on what they’ve learned. Discuss how their perception of West Virginia has changed and what they find most interesting or surprising.

10. Incorporate Technology:
Use technology to enhance the study, such as online resources, interactive maps, or virtual tours of historical sites.

RELATED:  Best Books Set in Illinois

11. Local Experts and Community Involvement:
Involve local experts and the community in your unit study. They can provide valuable insights and create a sense of connection to the state.

12. Respect cultural sensitivity:
Approach cultural topics with sensitivity and respect for the diverse communities within West Virginia. Teach about cultural diversity and inclusivity.

13. Celebrate Achievements:
Showcase students’ work and celebrate the completion of the unit study. You can host a presentation day, cultural fair, or exhibition to share what they’ve learned.

14. Evaluation and Adaptation:
After the unit study, evaluate its effectiveness and gather feedback from students. Use this information to adapt and improve future unit studies.

Remember to adapt the unit study to the age and abilities of your students and make it engaging and informative.

A state unit study can foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of West Virginia’s geography, history, culture, and more while helping students develop critical thinking and research skills.

West Virginia State Capitol

Best Books Set in West Virginia

In An Empty Room: A Novel
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Spotte, Stephen (Author)

In An Empty Room: A Novel

Author: Stephen Spotte

When a Marine fireteam combs through a secluded Vietnamese village suspected to be a Viet Cong supply hub, an IED detonates abruptly. The explosion decimates the five-man unit, sparing only one unidentified survivor.

His severe burns and disfigurements, coupled with his lost ability to speak, leave the military doctors in the dark about his identity. Is he Bunny, Hillbilly, Poke, Injun, or “the LT”?

In a southern West Virginia coal mining camp, speculation swirls about who made it alive. Most unsettling, the survivor grapples with a crisis of identity, uncertain who he is amidst the chaos.

  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Kinder, Chuck (Author)


Author: Chuck Kinder

Snakehunter is an excellent novel about a West Virginia childhood. Kinder has, to begin with, a good sense of his region; he has rested his story on the firmest possible bases, namely character and place. His dialogue, particularly that of his female characters, is first-rate.

The Glass Castle: A Memoir (book)
  • Great product!
  • Walls, Jeannette (Author)

The Glass Castle

Author: Jeannette Walls

The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption and a revelatory look into a family that is both deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant.

RELATED:  Best Books Set in Rhode Island

When sober, Jeannette’s brilliant and charismatic father captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly.

But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who hated the idea of domesticity and didn’t want the responsibility of raising a family.

The Midwife of Hope River: A Novel of an American Midwife
  • Harman, Patricia (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

The Midwife of Hope River

Author: Patricia Harman

A remarkable new voice in American fiction enchants readers with a moving and uplifting novel that celebrates the miracle of life.

In The Midwife of Hope River, first-time novelist Patricia Harmon transports us to poverty-stricken Appalachia during the Great Depression years of the 1930s and introduces us to a truly unforgettable heroine.

The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart: A Novel
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Taylor, Glenn (Author)

The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart 

Author: Glenn Taylor

Meet Trenchmouth Taggart, a man born and orphaned in 1903—a man nicknamed for his lifelong oral affliction.

His boyhood is shaped by the Widow Dorsett, a strong mountain woman who teaches him to hunt and to survive the taunts of others. In the hills of southern West Virginia, a boy grows up fast.

Now that you’ve completed the list of best books set in this state, why not check out some others? Here are the Best Books Set in All 50 States.


Click here to download this printable. It has a list of books in all 50 states, including the Best Movies Set in West Virginia.

Further Reading About the State:

Related Posts:

West Virginia State Capitol building with text:

Latest posts by Maxanne (see all)

Sharing is caring!